Sheffield: Trade unionists demand end to deaths at work

Memorial outside Sheffield Town Hall
People lay flowers at the Memorial Tree outside Sheffield Town Hall to honour the lives of people killed at work [BBC / Naj Modak]

A rally was held by trade unionists in Sheffield on Friday to pay tribute to those killed at work, and demand better health and safety in the workplace.

A crowd gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to mark International Workers' Memorial Day on Sunday 28 April.

This year's annual event focuses on climate risks, with workplace deaths due to volatile weather on the rise.

Sheffield Trades Council president Sam Morecroft told crowds climate change was "already causing death at work".

Sam Morecroft at the rally, outside Sheffield Town Hall
Sam Morecroft says action needs to be taken on climate change to prevent more worker deaths [BBC / Naj Modak]

He said unless action is taken to halt climate change, unpredictable weather will cause many more workers' deaths in the future.

"As we mark the lives of all who have tragically died at work, we will remember the dead and remind ourselves of the importance of fighting for the living, and for safe workplaces for all," he told the assembled audience.

He urged people to remember and mourn all those who have died at work, insisting "in many cases those deaths at work are preventable with proper health and safety and investment".

"We're fighting for dignity and security at work for all workers around the world."

People with flowers to lay at memorial
Linzie Viles and Basil Keelan, from Thompson Solicitors, were among the local workers who laid flowers at the Memorial Tree [BBC / Naj Modak]

A minute's silence was held "to remember and reflect that there are many people still in the world today who go to work and don't come home".

"That to us is unacceptable - that anybody should die at work due to unsafe conditions," said Mr Morecroft.

In the UK "around 140 people were killed at work in the last year," said Jawad Qasrewi from the Hazards Campaign, who spoke at the rally.

But the Hazards Campaign estimates approximately 2.4 million people are killed at work globally - "more than at war" - including tens of thousands who die as a consequence of workplace-related illness.